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Fact Sheet: Sharlene Poole, Baby Whisperer - Settling your baby

Settling your baby - Sharleen Poole

Being able to settle your baby to sleep or to be able to help a friend or family member with an unsettled baby is probably one of the greatest gifts you learn in the early months.

If you choose to sleep a baby in their own bed but struggle to be able to get them to stay asleep in there, learning some settling techniques will provide your baby and you will the ability to have better and happier days.


Options for settling:

- Swaddling
- Cuddling
- Dummy
- Rocking
- Touch (My Ssh/Pat technique)
- Pick up and Put down
- Topping Up

Supervised Settling -This is the term I use to describe how to know when to respond to your baby's complaints. It means I listen to the type of cry or complaint the baby is making before responding with a settling technique.
If you choose not to leave your baby to complain or cry then you would continue on with the checklist as below.

Settling technique- Turn a baby onto their side is so they are not looking at you and so you can tap their bottom to reenact the feeling babies had when inside the womb, a type of rocking action along with the sound you make with your voice like the 'swishing' fluid surrounding them.

The Baby Whisperer's tips:

Try to always put your baby into bed awake (unless they have fallen asleep on their own after a feed or play). Let them try and self-settle, giving them the chance to chat away and even complain a few times. If you go to them too quickly this can make it harder with over stimulation and an expectation of you picking them up and then expecting it every time. 

If your baby is still under 3-4mths of age, make sure that you swaddle them.
With Supervised Settling it all depends on the sound to start with instead of how long you leave them.
After that I listen to what type of complaint or cry it is before deciding to go in.
Is it consistent? - If so, you would leave them for only 1-3min of crying
Is it crying or complaining? You might leave them for up to 10min
Is it unusual? You might respond straight away

When you make the decision to go into to the room to settle:

Make a "sshing" sound only as talking will only stimulate your baby just as you would like them to sleep.

Be confident and as calm as possible (take deep breaths).

Turn your baby onto their side, ensuring the arm is forward of their bodies for comfort and safety. 

Place your left hand (if right handed) over their arms and then start the tapping with your right hand. You start off with a quick heart beat action and then you slow your movement to more of a vibration as keeping your tapping at a quick pace will keep your baby awake rather than to just distract them from their complaining.

If they calm quickly then you can leave the room, once again giving your baby a chance to learn to settle alone or you can continue until they have closed their eyes and are fast asleep.

If they are not responding to your technique you can leave the room, take a deep breath and think quickly whether they fed well at their last feed, whether they did a burp before you put them down (often in the night they do not need to be winded as much as during the day), have they dirtied their nappy?

Enter room and repeat, I would do this up to 3x before possibly using a dummy or thinking about offering a top up.

Where to go for further info:

Sharlene Poole - Little Miracles
Home visits/Skype calls
Sharlene's Baby Whispering Book and DVD

The Parenting Place - for settling seminars run each term

Plunket Family Drop in Centres